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Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the Community Giving Campaign?

The Community Giving Campaign is Upstate's annual charitable solicitation for all State, Research and MedBest employees. It is a convenient way to give to all your favorite charities at one time by check, payroll deduction or credit card (e-Pledge only).

How much of my contribution actually goes to my charity?

If you give to United Way of CNY your donation supports 87 programs that are operated by 33 local United Way agencies vetted by volunteers in our community. There's NO administrative fee charged for donating to the United Way of CNY (87-00156) and it's affiliated agencies. 

If you are interested in volunteering to help vet these local agencies please contact United Way of CNY 315-428-2211. 

State employees: By a written agreement with the local SEFA committee the administrative costs for The United Way are 10%.

Research and MedBest employees:  If you designate any portion of your gift to agencies outside of United Way’s network, administrative costs for the United Way is are 15%. Designations to UW partner agencies incur NO administrative fees.

Why should I give to the United Way when I can give directly to charities? Doesn't this add more overhead?

United Way funds programs, not agencies. This distinction means donor dollars are not put into a general agency budget that can be used for any purpose. United Way dollars are directed specifically to programs that help people and provide solutions to our community's most pressing problems. Many donors consider this to be a more effective use of their donation dollars.

For many agencies, there is a great benefit in receiving United Way dollars because they serve as the local match portions for state and federal grants. United Way is a highly efficient fundraising organization that can raise money less expensively than most agencies. In addition, the flow of money from United Way is consistent and allows agencies to plan and budget effectively.

Does the United Way take a "cut" off the top of the funding that it gives to agencies?

No. 100% of the funidng goes to programs vetted by United Way - provided the campaign is successful.

I already give to my church and other organizations, why should I support this campaign?

This campaign offers the opportunity to choose from hundreds of health and human service organizations, The Upstate Foundation and Alumni funds, and to contribute by payroll deduction as well as check or credit card. The campaign provides the opporunity to contribute to the collective effort ro solve our community's most intractable issues through United Way of CNY

Can I make a donation using my credit card?

Yes, you may donate by credit card via ePledge.

If I choose payroll deduction, when will I see the deduction in my paycheck?

Although pledge cards are filled out during the campaign, deductions will not begin until the first paycheck in January and will continue for one year.

Is an employees donation through SEFA a pre-tax payroll withholding?

The SEFA deduction is not taken before tax.  It is a after tax deduction.

What if I want to donate to an agency in a different county?

State employees may donate to agencies in any county as long as they are listed in the State Federated Appeal (SEFA directory).

Research and MedBest employees may contribute to any 501(c)(3) health and human service organization located in the US. (it’s in NYS or where the donor resides)

How can I add an agency to the campaign?

State employees: To be included in the SEFA campaign, an agency must apply online at sefanys.org between December 1 and January 15th. Contact Eileen Donovan from the United Way at 315 428-3746 with any questions.

Research and MedBest employees: You may simply write in the agency name on your pledge card (the agency must be a NYS 501(c)(3) health and human service organization located in New York State).

Can I exclude an agency?

Simply write the name of the agency you wish to exclude on your pledge card.

If I do not wish to designate my gift, where does the money go?

State employees: all undesignated donations are distributed in the same proportion as the designated funds.

Research and MedBest employees: undesignated donations support the United Way Community Program Fund.

Is my contribution tax deductible?

Since the tax overhaul in 2017, our best advice is to check with your accountant about tax deductibility.  The bar was raised much higher for an individual to claim charitable donations on their taxes with the new tax laws. 

Can a temporary employee or traveling nurse contribute to the campaign?

No. You must be an employee of Upstate Medical University or MedBest to participate in our campaign.

Do I need to return my pledge card even if I am not contributing?

Yes. This assures us that everyone received their pledge card and had the opportunity to participate in the campaign.